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Lady Lions fall in TNCAA tourney

Coach Ryan Smith wished he had more time with the Lady Lions this season.

It wasn’t the season the Covenant girls team envisioned, nor the ending.

The Lady Lions weren’t able to muster another late game run against West Academy in the TNCAA tournament, falling 50-43. The loss came just a week after Covenant beat the Thunderbirds 30-28 on senior night, rallying from an eight-point deficit in the fourth quarter to win.

Senior Sarah Sharpe scored 13 points, including eight in the fourth quarter when Covenant cut a 17-point deficit in half, but it wasn’t enough in her final outing. Addison Smith was next with eight points, followed by Savanna Duggin with seven.,

Madisen Madewell, the team’s second senior starter, had five points in her final game. Lydia Netherton was next with four and Kaylen Jacobs, Ryann Allen and Jadin Stovall all scored two points each.

With some time to reflect on the game, and the season, coach Ryan Smith had lots of thoughts about his Lady Lions.

Smith on his team’s fight down the stretch in the tournament

“The girls played extremely hard. We had emphasized playing hard and playing together and they did that. The girls were exhausted after the game. They had 12 assists out of 17 made shots and that is a sign of an unselfish team that is playing together. They wanted to win this one badly and I wish I could go back and do some things differently to help them.”

Smith on where the game got away

The last time we played them on senior night they didn't handle the press late so we wanted to start the game giving good ball pressure. We forced some turnovers early, but also gave up some easy points. I thought the girls got good shots and had good shot selection but early in the game we struggled to score.

“When you are struggling to score it puts a lot of pressure on your defense. We gave up some transition points and points off offensive rebounds and they made a 9-0 run late in the quarter. Looking back, that was a big point in the game and I wish I would have handled it differently. It went from us up 1 to them up a few and then we struggled to score and they made three baskets late in the quarter to take an eight-point lead.”

Read how the Lady Lions defeated West Academy on senior night by clicking here

The Lady Lions trailed by 13 at halftime. Coach Smith still had hope though.

“We said if we could cut it to at least eight (entering the fourth) we would be OK. The girls came from down against them on senior night. The way the game was going, I felt like West Academy was getting tired and if we could cut into the lead we could push it out in the fourth quarter.

“The girls came out playing hard in the third quarter, hit a couple of shots, and cut it to six about halfway into the third quarter. We gave up some easy baskets and had a stretch where we missed some shots and West pushed it out to 17 at the end of the 3rd quarter.”

Coach Smith on how his team refused to quit late

“I was really proud of the way the girls came out in the fourth quarter. They continued to fight and battle each possession. We outscored them by 10 points in the fourth quarter, but a 17-point deficit is hard to overcome in one quarter. There were two stretches in the game that really hurt us, but give West Academy credit they played hard to and made some tough shots. We only turned the ball over 13 times which is very manageable, but it seemed like they all came at bad times and every time we turned it over they ended up scoring on the other end.”

Covenant guard Madisen Madewell on senior night with her parents

Covenant post Sarah Sharpe on senior night with her parents

Smith reflects on this team and his seniors

“I wish we had more games with these girls. They had six games cancelled for various reasons and it makes it hard to get any kind of momentum when you have a stretch of two weeks when you don't have games. You can practice and scrimmage all you want, but nothing can replicate everything that happens in a game.

“These seniors have been great all year. This has been my first year as their head coach, but I have known them since they have been at the school and seen them grow. I've helped coach Madisen since third grade and she has been a key part of every team she has been a part of. She has been through the good times and the bad times. When she had the ball, she was the calming force that this team needed. She's made a significant contribution in every statistical category there is and has a competitive streak that drives her. We've asked her to do a lot of things and she has responded well.

“Sarah has improved tremendously over the last few years. She ended up being our leading scorer on the year and she did it through a lot of hard work. She's had a great attitude and has become a good basketball player. Both of them will be successful in whatever they decide to do.”

The Covenant Lions are still waiting to compete in the TNCAA tournament. The Lions enter at the tourney’s No. 1 overall seed and will play all its games at home. Due to weather conditions, the schedule for the tournament could be pushed back. Follow the WCSA for the latest details.

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